They may seem fickle, but they’re also a crucial customer base.
4 min read
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In today’s marketing, technology, retail and media space, Gen Z is the hot topic. As business leaders and brand marketers, it’s crucial that we pay attention to this budding generation, especially as their spending power and influence continues to grow. However, it’s also crucial to remember another often-misunderstood, yet still incredibly relevant, generation: millennials.
These days, millennials are the most represented generation in the workplace, and despite what headlines say, many are starting families and buying houses. Within a diverse and continually aging generation, the question remains: How do we keep millennials engaged?
I spoke with four startup-founder friends, all of whom service different aspects of the millennial marketplace, about what millenials spend money on, what grabs their attention and what has changed now that they are having children. My takeaways from those conversations are below.
Experiences: Find the Intersection Between Tech and Real-Life
On one hand, millennials will pay a premium for things that make it easy to never leave the house — Netflix, food delivery apps, even laundry-pickup services. On the other hand, studies also show that millennials are spending more money on experiences over products. When this age group is used to ordering almost anything to their door, how do you convince them to leave their living room and visit your establishment? The answer is easy, says Josh Goodman, the founder of PourMyBeer, a company that creates self-serve beverage installations for restaurants and bars: Make “real life” experiences mimic online experiences to keep millennials hooked.
“It’s important to keep up with the times and technology by offering on-demand solutions in your establishment,” Goodman says, advising that “fast-moving, tech-heavy options” will drive engagement and growth for traditional, physical businesses.
Stephen Glicken, of ticketing-software company Project Admission, agrees that millennials are willing to spend more on experiences and that a strong tech component is key to driving engagement. From an events perspective, Glicken feels that companies should make it a seamless process for millennials to attend their events and share that experience with friends, adding, “They notice when a platform or user interface makes it difficult to do that, If one platform is difficult to use, then they abandon it for another.”
Attention: Keep it Simple
There is an overwhelming assortment of products and platforms in today’s retail and media landscape. Steven Borrelli, the founder of men’s clothing company CUTS, concedes that it can be hard to get his generation’s attention and advises other brands take a page from his book by sticking with simplicity.
“Let your product or service speak for itself by investing in quality and by keeping design elements clean,” Borrelli says. “Minimalism adds a little mystery, too, and curiosity helps increase engagement.”
Glicken also mentions that simplicity boosts engagement with millennials when it comes to technology, and describes the best platforms for their cohort as “ego-free” spaces with a focus on transparency and making connections.
Parennials: The New Mom and Dad
Many brands still think of millennials as young, single city-dwellers who spend all their money on avocado toast. That’s not the case these days, San Francisco-based entrepreneur Sara Schaer says. And Schaer should know, as she created an app that Millennials are starting to love. It’s an “Uber for Kids” called Kango, a rideshare service used by many “Parennials”, or millennial parents. While it is completely safe and trustworthy thanks to extensive and personalized vetting of drivers, it’s still a service that might seem unfathomable to parents who raised their kids 20 years ago.
Schaer says that growing with millennials and equipping them with tools to handle new challenges, like parenting, is essential for brands to remain engaged with this target audience. Specifically, she suggests companies “get their attention at moments when they are moving through new life phases and need help. For example, parenting milestones as their children are born and grow.”
Because millennial parents were more likely to endure a heavy sense of competitiveness while growing up themselves, they devote even more time and resources to ensure their children will succeed, according Schaer. If you can provide accessible, high-value services that ease some of that stress, then millennials will reward you with years-long loyalty as they and their families continue to grow.